There wouldn’t be any surprises in the Bulls off-season. No superstars retiring, no big-name acquisitions. The Bulls started off hot, winning their first 12 games, a franchise record. They would finish the season with an impressive 69 wins.
The Bulls quickly dispatched their first three playoff opponents. They advanced to the finals, where they would meet the Western Conference champions, the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz, who were making their first finals appearance, had a pair of superstars who were poised to match up well against the Bulls: all-time assist leader John Stockton and regular season MVP Karl Malone.
The Bulls squeaked out a victory in game one, with Jordan hitting a buzzer beater. Game two didn’t require any last-minute heroics. The Jazz shot poorly, and the Bulls won easily. The Jazz bounced back and won games three and four in Utah.
Game five turned out to be one of the more epic games in NBA history. Two nights prior to game five, as a last resort, Jordan ordered pizza delivered to his room. A few hours after eating, he summoned the team trainer to his room. The trainer found Jordan laying in bed, curled up in pain. Jordan would remain in bed in pain until an hour before the game five tipoff. Despite his fatigue, Jordan labored on and dominated, scoring 38 points. The Bulls ultimately won the game by two points. As the buzzer sounded, Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms. Despite the fact that everyone now thinks Jordan had food poisoning, the game is always referred to as “The Flu Game.”
Both teams traveled back to Chicago for a competitive game six, but in the end, finals MVP Jordan and the rest of the Bulls were too much for the Jazz to handle.
For a more detailed look at the Bulls’ fifth NBA championship, take a look at The Chicago Bulls Encyclopedia by Alex Sachare.